From The Real-Life ‘Conjuring’ To A Satanic Nun, Explore 9 Horrifying Tales Of Demonic Possession

Published October 25, 2022
Updated October 26, 2022

Anna Ecklund: The Woman Whose Supposed Demonic Possession Lasted For 12 Years

Theophilus Riesinger

The Occult Museum/TwitterTheophilus Riesinger, the priest who allegedly rid Anna Ecklund of her demonic possession.

Born around 1882, Anna Ecklund — whose real name may be Emma Schmidt — seemed like an ordinary girl. But as she got older, Ecklund began to show alleged signs of demonic possession, leading to a series of exorcisms that lasted for 23 days in 1928.

According to TIME, a priest named Theophilus Riesinger exorcised Ecklund in Earling, Iowa, after hearing about how she had suffered from demonic possession for at least 12 years. The Daily Star reported that she showed signs of distress around religious objects, engaged in “unspeakable sexual acts,” and suffered from “disturbing thoughts.”

In 1928, the 40-something Ecklund was brought to Father Theophilus, who’d already “cast out the devil” 19 times in other people.

Earling Iowa

Public DomainThe exorcism of Anna Ecklund allegedly took place in Earling, Iowa, a small town with a population of less than 500.

As nuns held Ecklund down, Father Theophilus began the exorcism. But as he started to speak, Ecklund “with lightning speed… dislodged herself from the bed and the hands of protectors, and her body, carried through the air, landed high above the door of the room and clung to the wall with catlike grips.”

Undeterred, Father Theophilus continued. He allegedly determined that Ecklund was possessed by multiple demons, including her sexually abusive father, his allegedly murderous mistress, Beelzebub, and others. The demons “spoke” in Latin, German, and English, and Ecklund ejected “horrible excrements” as Father Theophilus prayed over her.

But after 23 days of the exorcism, something seemed to shift. Anna Ecklund suddenly smiled for the first time in 12 years and exclaimed, “My Jesus, mercy! Praised be Jesus Christ!”

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
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Fraga, Kaleena. "From The Real-Life ‘Conjuring’ To A Satanic Nun, Explore 9 Horrifying Tales Of Demonic Possession.", October 25, 2022, Accessed June 22, 2024.